The Child Tax Credit (CTC) has always been a popular tax break for families. During the COVID-19 pandemic, millions of taxpayers with children came to depend on it even more. Now, some parents who usually don't have to file a tax return can still get this tax break, which could be as much as $3,600 per child. But they must act by Nov. 15. Pandemic pumped-up credit: The CTC was enhanced as part of 2021's American Rescue Plan Act coronavirus relief legislation. It upped the usual $2,000 per child credit for qualifying youngsters. For the 2021 tax year, the CTC... Read more →


Don't look now, but tax filing season is just three months away. The Internal Revenue Service is working on getting ready, both staff and system wide, for the influx of 2022 tax returns in 2023. The agency also is counting on its usual cadre of volunteers to help filers meet their tax obligations. To do that, the IRS has awarded $41 million in grants to 348 groups that support Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) and Tax Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) programs. Nationwide help sites: VITA and TCE sites are nationwide, and offer tax preparation and filing help to underserved... Read more →


Before you and your family celebrate Halloween, check out these October tax moves. Your calendar isn't wrong. We're already into the first week of October, the beginning of the fourth quarter of the year. Once you get through repeating (like me) "Already?", it's time for the annual fall push. Between picking out your Halloween outfit and locating a secure hiding place for the holiday treats that your family can't find, it's time to make some tax moves. Here are four tax tasks that you need to check out this October. 1. File your 2020 tax return. Are you one of... Read more →


This image from the NASA/Landsat Operational Land Imager (OLI) was taken about three hours before Hurricane Ian made landfall on Sept. 28 in Cayo Costa, Florida. (NASA Earth Observatory image by Joshua Stevens, using Landsat data from the U.S. Geological Survey, GEOS-5 data from the Global Modeling and Assimilation Office at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, and roads from OpenStreetMap. Check out the companion video of Ian's path.) Everyone saw Ian coming. The White House approved an emergency declaration allowing the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to get ready to provide help to Floridians even as the system was "just"... Read more →


I loved this couch, but it was starting to wear so we donated it away while it was still in good shape. Some folks, however, would have sold the sofa. Now, such transactions could trigger a confusing tax situation. With inflation still squeezing budgets, some people have taken to selling old items. Garage sales are the traditional route, but if your neighborhood limits when you can put old items out for sale (dang those HoAs), then there's always the internet. A tax law change, however, could mean a tax hassle for infrequent, small-time online sellers. They could get a tax... Read more →


This National Hurricane Center graphic shows how the strength and extent of Hurricane Ian's winds changed over its development. The orange segments are tropical storm force. The red swaths are hurricane force. For those of us who've visited Florida's Gulf Coast, the images of how Hurricane Ian destroyed a huge swath of it are gutting. My heart is breaking for Sanibel Island. I cannot image how the people who live there are feeling or coping. Landfall didn't stop this deadly monster. As Ian moved across the Sunshine State, it left in its wake similar, albeit less severe, damages. Now South... Read more →


Watch out! Hurricane shark! Photos like this show up every time sea water rushes into streets. @Gutfeldfox somehow a shark ended up in a Fort Myers neighborhood during Hurricane Ian.. 😬 pic.twitter.com/l3WbzgNQHj — Brad Habuda (@BradHabuda) September 28, 2022 At least Hurricane Ian prompted a new fake shark image. I was getting tired of the Great White alongside an auto. UPDATE, Sept. 28, 2022, 7 p.m. CT: The fish apparently is real, with some marine experts saying it could be a juvenile shark. What isn't up for debate, though, is the post-storm scams. They are real, and remain the same.... Read more →


We depend on our smartphones more than ever. They've made texting, especially among younger device owners, the preferred way to communicate. Crooks know this, too. Including tax identity thieves. The Internal Revenue Service says it's seen a recent rash of tax-related texting scams. These latest schemes, known as smishing because they use SMS (short message service) or MMS (multimedia messaging service), look like they are coming from the IRS. Don't fall for these fake IRS texts, which the tax agency says have increased exponentially this year. Exponential fake tax texts: So far in 2022, the IRS has identified and reported... Read more →


Cryptocurrency continues to make inroads into our daily lives, including our taxes. On Sept. 1, Colorado officially became the first U.S. state to allow its residents to pay their state taxes in bitcoin. It's a pretty safe assumption that those Centennial State residents who pay state taxes with bitcoin also will be forthcoming at the federal level when it comes to their digital assets. But for those who are less transparent, the Internal Revenue Service is stepping up its efforts to know about and collect on crypto transactions. Legal action against hidden crypto: Last week, the IRS obtained a so-called... Read more →


If you must have follow-up discussions with the Internal Revenue Service, one of the rights guaranteed under the Taxpayer Bill of Rights is the option to hire an authorized representative. That can be anyone, from a relative to a paid tax professional. However, in some cases, your representative must be authorized to practice before the IRS. You also need to make sure to officially designate your chosen tax representative, or as it's known in tax-speak, third-party authorization. That's done by filing a written declaration with the IRS — Form 2848 (more on this later) can be used here — stating... Read more →


Just more than a year ago, a Parkville, Missouri, man pleaded guilty to charges filed in two separate federal investigations. One was a case involving conspiracy to commit wire and major program fraud. The defendant admitted to his role in a $335 million scheme to defraud federal programs that award contracts to firms owned by minorities, veterans, and service-disabled veterans. The second charge was one of tax evasion to the tune of $615,847. The Missouri man confessed to claiming fraudulent business expenses on his 2016 tax year return and filing false returns from 2013 to 2016. Last Thursday, Sept. 22,... Read more →


Photo by Karolina Grabowska I have money in the stock market. When I was a younger investor, I checked my assets a lot. Like almost every day. Then I realized that was just going to make me crazy(ier), so I shifted to a monthly review of where my holdings were. Now I just check quarterly. Most of the reason for my reduction in the frequency of my equity evaluations is that I'm at that part of my life where my holdings are pretty much set for my fast-approaching retirement years. The good news is that the recent market dive, while... Read more →


You can quit double checking your calendar. It is indeed fall, even if the cooler temperatures haven't gotten the message across much of the United States. If you have children, autumn is noted by the kiddos returning to classrooms. That's happening in more places, as we seem to be shifting from pandemic COVID-19 to the coronavirus' endemic phase. Many parents also discover at this time of year that their youngsters have grown. A lot. That means new outfits. In big families, nuclear and extended, outgrown outfits turn into hand-me-downs. But if you have no one who'll take your still good,... Read more →


If you've yet to file a 2019 or 2020 tax year return, you should get to work on that oversight soon. Like get them done by Sept. 30 soon. By meeting that end-of-this-month date, you may be able to avoid the usual late-filing penalty. It's typically assessed at a rate of 5 percent per month, up to 25 percent of the unpaid tax. And since the 2019 and 2020 due dates are long gone, that could be a substantial abated amount, depending on how much tax you owe. Helping both taxpayers and tax agency: The Internal Revenue Service's penalty relief... Read more →


Black's, an iconic Central Texas barbecue chain, was caught improperly distributing tip money to managers, instead of the 270 employees to whom it should have been paid. Those restaurant workers now have their proper gratuities, which are taxable income. Being a restauranteur has always been a challenge. The same can be said for eatery staff. Then along came the COVID-19 pandemic, amped up the workplace issues both owners and employees face. So what else could complicate things? Tips. In one famed Central Texas BBQ joint, it was the way tips were collected and distributed among workers. The U.S. Department of... Read more →


Satellite image of Hurricane Fiona's landfall on the southwestern corner of Puerto Rico at 3:35 p.m. Atlantic Standard Time on Sunday, Sept. 18. (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo) Fiona, the first major hurricane of the 2022 tropical season, not only wiped out power to most of Puerto Rico, it also was responsible for four deaths on the island. Hurricane Fiona made landfall at the southwestern edge of Puerto Rico the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 18, but was big and strong enough to wreak havoc across the entire U.S. island territory. The strike came almost exactly five years after Hurricane... Read more →


If you believe cryptocurrency has democratized financial services and leveled the financial playing field, then have we got a deal for you. And by deal, we mean scam. That's a major finding of recently released U.S. Department of Treasury report, which also wants regulators to take more action against crypto fraud and scammers. The report, Crypto-Assets: Implications for Consumers, Investors, and Businesses, is in response to President Joe Biden's March 9 Executive Order 14067, which, directed Treasury (among other agencies) to examine ways to "ensure responsible development of digital assets." That's going to take a multi-agency effort, according to Treasury,... Read more →


Photo by Vidal Balielo Jr. The Child Tax Credit was expanded in 2021 to help families coping with the adverse economic effects of the COVID-19. During the height of the pandemic, the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) temporarily bumped up the amount available via the already popular CTC. It went from $2,000 per qualifying child to $3,600 a year for children younger than age 6, and $3,000 per child for youngsters ages 6 to 17. The credit amounts were phased out once tax-filing families hit certain income levels. More of the increased CTC also was refundable, meaning that if the... Read more →